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Family mediation may solve Sanfords' ongoing custody dispute

A lot of people share a great deal of information about their personal lives online. For better or worse, that information is out there for anyone to see. Sometimes, stating an opinion and sharing feelings feels good, but the consequences aren't always pleasant.

A Southern congressman made headlines a few years ago when he and his wife separated and later divorced. Many Louisiana residents probably didn't know who Mark and Jenny Sanford were until news broke about Mark Sanford's affair with a South American woman. Sanford told his wife he was taking off on a hiking trip in 2009, which turned out to be an extramarital meeting.

The Sanfords divorced the following year. The former couple has been disputing the custody of four children ever since. Mark Sanford decided to marry the Argentinian woman, but recently, the engagement was called off.

Sanford used Facebook to make the announcement. In a long, rambling statement, Sanford talked about the break-up and stated he was planning to hire a lawyer to represent him in the custody matter. The congressman apparently entered into previous property and custody agreements with his ex-wife largely without legal representation.

The politician said he was averse to creating conflict with the mother of his children. At the same time, he agreed the "conciliatory" style did nothing to resolve the parents' differences. In fact, Sanford said taking a passive approach seemed to make them worse.

Not long after the post, a judge announced the former couple would use family mediation to come to terms on custody. Mediation is useful for couples trying to resolve several types of conflicts during or after divorce – child support and custody, visitations, spousal support and property settlements.

A mediator is a facilitator, not a decision maker. Parties are responsible for stating what they want and negotiating a compromise. Family mediation helps exes stay on track and come to an agreement.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Divorce, Sanford Style: Social Media and Mediation" Liz Moyer and Karen Damato, Sep. 15, 2014

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